As drought drives prices higher, millions of Californians struggle to pay for water bills
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SAN DIEGO — The news isn’t all good for San Diego’s water users.
While prices are up, water bills are increasing at the same time, and some are facing sticker shock.
The cost of water for the average household in San Diego increased to $1,049 in January 2019, a 3 percent increase from a year ago. That’s on average 2.5 percent higher than in 2017.
A family of four that uses water 24 hours a day will save about $60 a month with most of the savings coming from less washing and laundry. The national average for a five-person family is $1,543. But with San Diego’s average water bill, that family will spend more than double that — $2,056.
California’s drought-ridden summer is a reminder that despite progress, the situation is far from stable.
Water experts say the cost of water is the biggest issue facing Californians, particularly those who rely on wells or rainwater for home or agricultural use. It’s also a big issue in other areas, such as Southern California, where officials are trying to protect San Diego’s water.
As water is at an all-time peak, California is facing more than 20 years of water deficits, according to a report by the California Water Policy Group, a non-profit group that advocates for more water use and efficiency.
The report found that by 2060, California’s water supply will be down 25 percent, from 45 percent to 41 percent of the typical California household’s need.
What’s driving the higher prices?
The short answer is that water rates have gone up in all areas of the state, but especially in the Central Valley and Southern California.
In the Central Valley, water bills have gone up for many years in response to population growth, a drought and increasing energy costs. In 2017, San Diego recorded its first water-rationing hike since 1970.
In early 2019,